Is that a bar fight? A Nascar race? An unusually aggressive pep rally?
No — It’s Olympic curling! And there is screaming. So much screaming. Why? Well, it’s simply how teammates communicate with each other as they guide the stones, sweep by sweep, to the bulls-eye.
But, for some, that's not immediately apparent:
How do people understand curling? Like actually... What is it? Why are they screaming? Are those swiffers? Aren't they cold in tshirts?
— Jennie McGowan (@jenniemac44) February 16, 2014
Heard women screaming. Went to TV room to tell Gene to turn violent movie down...He's watching curling. Who knew sweeping was so strenuous.
— Ana Navarro (@ananavarro) February 16, 2014
These athletes just screaming at the curling stones... Why???
— Taurean Fitness ♉ (@MD_5879) February 17, 2014
— ♛ Kenneth M Tong ♛ (@kingmo) February 17, 2014
They're all screaming like oh oh oh go go go like it's just curling calm down
— shinji (@weeerus) February 17, 2014
Why is there so much yelling, no, screaming in curling?? #chill
— Gabrielle Miele (@GabrielleMiele) February 17, 2014
To understand the method behind the mayhem, one must first know the rules of curling. For starters, players aim to direct heavy, granite stones across a sheet of textured ice toward a target area called the house. (Consider curling a distant cousin of shuffleboard.) Two teams, each with four players, take turns sliding the stones — also called “rocks” —toward the target. Each team has eight stones per end, which is curling's version of, say, a baseball inning. There are 10 ends in a tournament-style game.
That makes for about an hour of screaming. (Learn more with our viewers' guide.)
Usually, the team captain — known in the curling world as the skip — is calling the shots, yelling the commands. They must project to be heard down the ice.
[ Related: Here are the 'Men of Curling' ]
The U.S. women’s team made a handy explainer video that parodies the popular Ylvis song and answers the age-old question: What does the skip say?
In an NBC interview before the Sochi Games, U.S. skips Erika Brown and Pete Fenson explained some of their most-yelled commands:
“Whoa! WHOA!” means stop
“Right off!” also means stop.
“Hard!” is short and literal: Sweep harder!
“Right up!” also means, “Sweep hard.”
“Yup!” basically means, “Sweep! Sweep away!”
Of course, different teams speak different languages. But some things are universal:
“With the intensity of my voice, you can see….they’ll sweep accordingly," Fenson said.
He laughed, adding, “There’s a lot of terms.”
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